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Bashing Intellectual Morons

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Dan Flynn, weblogger and author of Intellectual Morons, took time out to speak with me at CPAC about Ward Churchill and his latest book.

On Ward Churchill, Flynn’s “convinced that he’s not an Indian at all” who “used an ethnicity to capitalize, to exploit it for his own career purposes.” In the name of “political solidarity” and diversity the University of Colorado hired him, questionable past and all.

On what to do about Churchill, Flynn differs from me and others who want schools to drop his upcoming speeches. Flynn told me “Once you invite someone to speak there’s really nothing you can do about it.” He also fears retaliation on conservative speakers. Having his books burned was just one of the bad experiences Flynn had on the college speaking circuit. Banning Churchill will empower the Left to stop conservative speakers. A intellectually stifling tit-for-tat.

In Flynn’s new book Intellectual Morons he examines how “ideology acts like a mental straightjacket.” He went on,

It blinds adherence to reality. It breeds fanaticism. It justifies dishonesty….

Ideology makes smart people stupid.

How do we know we’ve stumbled upon an intellectual moron (IM)? Flynn describes them:

An IM is someone who’s blessed with great cognitive abilities, but because they squander those abilities by relying on ideology to provide them their thoughts rather than their brain.

A prime example of an IM on the Left is Noam Chompsky. He earned his academic position as a linguist, but he’s most known as a radical, anti-American preacher. For Flynn having a “high IQ is not an antidote to thinkheadedness.” “Because you’re brilliant in that one field doesn’t give you license to start making proclaimations about everything under the sun,” Flynn continues.

As for right-wing IMs Flynn mentioned Leo Strauss and Ayn Rand. Strauss believed thinkers through history had hidden messages in their works. One level of reading was for the lay public while another was for learned scholars. Flynn find Strauss philosophic approach as “Plato’s noble lie writ large.” It’s acceptible for the intelligensia to lie to the public if it’s a noble cause. Think of it as a merging of Machiavelli and Plato.

Flynn criticizing Ayn Rand. He’s a fan of her novels and views them as “propagandist.” Some of her followers are known to be a little cult-like. Flynn told me some have gone so far as to talk with a Russian accent.

By going after IMs of both Right and Left Flynn demonstrates his book is not the shallow polemic the title implies.

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About Sean Hackbarth

  • Interesting that Flynn enjoys Ayn Rand’s novels, even though he finds them “propagandist” – did he give specific examples, or were the “cultist” followers of Objectivism the sole reason he assigned Rand the IM tag?


    “Ideology makes smart people stupid.”
    Well said.

  • and particularly ironic for a guy who wrote “why the left hates america”.

    get yer blinders on.

  • Eric Olsen

    very interesting, thanks Sean! great to have original interviews

  • Ward Churchill seems to have been awarded an honary tribal membership – and gone to town with it. Dolt.

    One sentence is an interview? So every article I ever write for the newspaper could qualify as an interview piece for Blogcritics because they’ve at least got that? Hmmm. I thought it was just an article. But bloggers are the same as journalists.

  • Eric Olsen

    this is the kind of interview with lots of paraphrasing and summarizing – editorial decision

  • I know I know. Sorry. It’s just not what I thik of when I think of an interview piece put in the BC interview column, which is where I found it ready to read – an interview.

    Just pissy of me.

  • All ideology and/or dogma is ultimately bad.

    The world is a wonderful, endlessly varied place and the larger universe even more so.

    All belief systems are limited human creations and are incapable of universal application to the actual complexity of Life.

    Tp loosely paraphrase Isaac Asimov “Never let your beliefs prevent you doing the right thing”.

    It seems to me that a LOT of smart people are falling for stupid ideas these days…

  • Flynn called Rand’s novel “propagandist” in a positive way. Sort of a hyper-polemic I’m guessing. That portion of the interview didn’t get recorded so I had to rely on my memory.

  • Eric Olsen

    on the procedural front: did you take notes as you went, Sean?

  • What Flynn also told me was he was uncomfortable with the title of his first book “Why the Left Hates America.” That was his publisher’s idea. The book sold well so Flynn thinks they made a good decision.

  • Perhaps Flynn assigned it to its proper genre; it is an apalogue, a moral parable.

    From Free Dictionary on “apalogue” and related topics:

    An apologue is a fiction with pointed or exaggerated details, illustrating a moral truth without explicitly stating it… the moral is more important than the narrative details. Like the parable, the apologue is a tool of rhetorical argument introduced in order to convince or persuade.

    Unlike a fable… In its strict sense a fable is a short story or folk tale embodying a moral, which may be expressed explicitly at the end as a maxim. [Emphasis mine.]

  • Sorry, my previous comment referred to comment #9.

    Flynn’s characterization of Atlas Shrugged (and other fiction by Ayn Rand) was listed as “propagandist” in the original post, but he may have used a different term.

  • “A prime example of an IM on the Left is Noam Chompsky.”

    Uh, that would be Chomsky.

  • i write in respect of the little child who is an
    orphan that is suffering from psychosomatic illness
    and the child is to be taken to UNITED STATE OF
    AMERICA for treatment and the amount that was charged
    to get the child recover is about sixty five thousand
    dollars ($65,000),so sir/madam i am only asking if you
    can help recover the innocent child, and it is only
    God almighty can reward you for your goodness.

  • Me

    Being a book of Flynns own Idealogy itself, I find it very shallow minded and short sided. Sorry big guy. An old prase comes to mind when I think of Flynn now, anyone familiar with “the pot calling the kettle black”?

  • Ayn Rand’s novels are unintentionally quite funny propaganda. I think she might be related to George Lucas — they share an extraterrestrial observer’s ham-handed, akward, austere yet childishly limitited, abstract yet insightless approach to human dialogue, human emotions like love, and the social interactions of homo sapiens in the course of everyday affairs.

    That is all.

  • vinny Marcanti

    Its sadly funny how someone who hates the truth will discredit the truth teller. To call Chomsky a moron shows who the true moron is, Flynn. Keep on kidding yourselves, and deny the truth by reading truth hating fools like flynn perhaps you will be better off. However to call chomsky a moron and anti-american and on the left is unexceptable. You sir are a fool and would be destroyed in a debate with noam.